Navigating the Product Development Journey

Where did your last project start? How did you get from an idea to the point where you knew it would work and could do real product development? What twists and turns did your path take before the first ‘for-sale’ units rolled off the production line?

This post is the short story of how one of our customers went from a big idea to a product, and the technology choices they made along the way.

Meeting new challenges

Our customer is in the security industry and was looking to upgrade a successful ticketing-based product to a camera-based system with machine vision. This new product would include up to 8 cameras and be a big step up in technology and capability.

Like all good engineers tackling a big development, they took small steps. Starting with what they knew, a Raspberry Pi, they developed a proof-of-concept with a single camera.

This was enough to get a green light for the project. But where to from here? One of the lead designers had been on a project that used a Raspberry Pi. In that project, they kept it as their processing platform for their final product and saw no end of issues in production.

It was a case of “use the right tool for the job”. Hobby boards are great for proof-of-concept work, but they’re not built with production in mind.

Opal-6

Opal-6 QuadWorking with ILR, one of our NZ-based design partners, the customer was introduced to Opal-6. Apart from working with Device Solutions modules, ILR’s expertise also includes camera systems and cellular connectivity – a perfect fit for this application.

Opal-6 is a system-on-module designed for use in industrial applications. It has a small, robust form-factor and handles extended temperature requirements. It also has the long life-time availability required for this application. The customer did not want to re-design their system every time components were made obsolete.

Options were important. The first proof-of-concept design was OK with a single camera, but they were still not sure how much processing would be required for a system with 8 cameras.

Being a connected application, they also had questions about the overall architecture. How much processing would they do locally vs on their cloud platform?

Scalability

The scalability of Opal-6, from i.MX6 Solo to QuadPlus, gave them confidence that they could continue their design and keep their options open. They could go with a quad-core processor and would not be limited by processing power if they chose to do more work on the device. Likewise, they would not be stuck with a higher cost option if they chose to push more processing out to the cloud.

Marcus Clyne, Managing Director at ILR said “Opal-6 provided the peace-of-mind for the customer that they were getting a professional level solution with long term support. The flexibility of different module variants meant one less architectural decision that had to be made early in the design process, which kept the project development moving forward“.

Software

So what of software? Most hobby boards support Linux, as does Opal-6. The customer developed the initial software using standard open-source libraries. Porting these to Opal-6 was trivial, and they continued development from there, expanding the capabilities and including the cellular connectivity.

Conclusion

The journey of developing a product rarely travels from start to finish in a straight line. Navigating the twists and turns successfully requires choosing components that are the right fit for your project.

Are you starting a project with i.MX6 and wondering if Opal-6 would work for you? Drop us a line at http://device.solutions/contact and tell us what you are working on. We would love to talk through your options and how we could help with your journey.

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